Care providers criticise placement decision making
Published: 30.05.13Foster care and children’s home associations are urging local authorities to use third sector providers more to reduce unsuitable care placements.
The Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers (NAFP) and Independent Children's Homes Association (ICHA) have released a joint statement saying that too many looked-after children are being placed in inappropriate care settings because local authorities are reluctant to use care homes or independent foster agencies.
They claim that although local authorities are working to understand how to assess needs - especially at a strategic level - poor understanding of needs and costs is a big problem in addition to short term planning and an unevidenced bias against some services and placement options.
The associations criticise the current care system as "playing off fostering, children's homes, kinship care and adoption against each other" and that these division are intolerable, harmful to children and also "delay the long overdue development of local and national government strategies to provide the best placements that children urgently need."
They say councils' preference for placing children with foster carers they have recruited and support is resulting in increased placement breakdown:
"Combined with a preference to avoid children's homes if at all possible, this means that young people are sometimes placed in fostering for reasons that have nothing to do with meeting their needs. It is clear that at least some of these young people actually need specialist residential resources. The country generally uses our residential resources as a last resort with a series of broken fostering placements eventually leading to admission to a children's home late in teenage years. This can and must be stopped. Frequently we find costs of fostering and residential resources being spuriously compared."